Boston Acoustics M25 Loudspeaker Review 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Bookshelf/Monitor Loudspeakers
Written by Andre Marc   
Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Boston Acoustics was founded in 1979 and quickly made a name among budget audiophiles, and later home theater enthusiasts. They became a big player in car audio as well. In 2005, D&M Holdings -- the parent company for Marantz, Denon and, up until a few weeks ago, McIntosh -- purchased Boston Acoustics.  For a few years, Boston Acoustics was admittedly off the high-end radar, but in 2012, the company made a big push with a brand new line of products.

The Boston Acoustics engineering team is based out of Peabody, Massachusetts, and they called upon independent German designer, Karl-Heinz Fink, and Ken Ishiwata of Marantz.  Ishiwata is an absolute legend, having designed some of the best sounding components Marantz has ever developed. When I heard he was involved in the development of the new Boston Acoustics line, I was enthralled.  I reviewed several products he has designed, including the utterly superb SA-15S2B Limited Edition SACD player. When the offer came to review one of the new speakers, I jumped.

I received the M25 two way monitors, which retail for $399 each, or to round it off, $800 a pair. Stuffed with proprietary technology and interesting design touches, the M25 features a 1” Extended Wide Bandwidth type dome tweeter coupled with a 5.25” woofer. Boston Acoustics also developed a technology, dubbed Lo-Q, to reduce cabinet vibrations and tame resonances. The M25 is rear ported, with one set of quality binding posts.

The overall build quality is very impressive. These do not look or feel like “budget” speakers in any way. The front baffle is fitted with a leatherette of sorts, and my review samples arrived in a very nice high gloss black finish. M25s are not very big, at around 12.5” tall and roughly 10”deep, but they weigh almost 15 lbs each. They come with a soft fabric grill that Boston says is sonically transparent.  I left them off most of the time, as I liked the look of the speaker with the drivers exposed. The M Series also includes three floorstanders, a center channel, a surround, and a subwooofer.

Set Up & Listening:

I set up the M25s on a pair of 26” Sound Anchors stands where my Harbeth Compact 7ES3s usually sit, with QED Genesis Silver Spiral speaker cable terminated with banana plugs. I used both a pair of Peachtree Audio separates and my McIntosh MA6600 integrated amplifier. Toe-in was roughly 20 degrees, with roughly 3 feet of space around all surfaces.

Determined to run the M25s through their paces with as many different types of music as possible, I started with Swept Away, the new album from bassist Marc Johnson and pianist Elaine Elias on the legendary ECM label. A tonally pure recording, the performances are elegant and the M25 passed this first test with flying colors. The acoustic bass was woody in tone, precise in attack, and the piano notes rang out bell-like, with the percussive effect one hears from a live piano. This was a very good start indeed.


Shifting gears, I called up a new recording of a live collaboration between banjo virtuoso American Bela Fleck, and legendary Malian singer Oumou Sangare.  Odd as this may seem, it is a rather natural match up, as the banjo is similar to the African instrument, the kora, and Fleck has performed virtually every type of American music, many which have their roots in Africa.  The M25 allowed the majesty of Sangare’s vocals, Fleck’s complimentary support, and the backing band to each have their own space, and yet to gel as one.

I also found myself spinning a lot of Nick Drake, a performer I have been fascinated with for years, who tragically died in 1974 at the age of 26. His three studio albums are fantastic examples of a marriage between an otherworldly gifted artist and a sympathetic producer, in this case, Joe Boyd. The title track of his final album, Pink Moon, features Drake’s nylon string guitar, and cello-like voice. I have heard this track on many, many speakers, and the M25 was up to the task. It rendered Drake’s voice and guitar with nuance, and sense of presence that allowed the song to transcend from recording to performance.

I also ran through a bunch of albums with good bass content and, quite frankly, was amazed at the M25's ability in this area. The key words here are control and articulation. There was convincing bass weight as well. There was absolutely zero overhang or smearing of the low frequency that I could detect. Since I found the M25 to be extremely clean, extended, and sweet sounding in the treble, this would have been easy to hear.

Boston Acoustics M25

U2's 2001 masterwork, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, is filled with tracks featuring rumbling bass guitar, like “Elevation”, Beautiful Day”, and “New York”. Through the M25, these songs sounded exciting with an excellent sense of momentum and drive. It really takes a well-designed speaker to offer dynamics, natural excitement, and delicacy and nuance. That is what you have here with the M25.

Finally, the midrange of the M25 was one of the purist I have heard from a sub $1000 speaker.  As noted, voices were very well presented, in an impressively natural way, and the same applies to strings and the lower registers of acoustic guitar and piano.  A live recording of Piano Concerto No.5 by Camille Saint-Saens, performed by Jean-Yves Thibaudet on piano with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, was lush, layered, and simply beautiful. The only thing missing was the sense of scale much larger speakers can muster.

To offer up a quick comparison, the last mini monitor I reviewed was the Anthony Gallo Acoustics CL-1, priced at $500 per pair. The Gallos were a bit more vivid, bringing you maybe one row closer, and offered up a very exciting presentation. The Gallos are fine speakers, with a long pedigree, but the M25 was bit more balanced and weighty over all.  The higher cost of the M25 certainly, in part, covers the more substantial cabinetry and high quality finish.

The only caveat I would offer for the M25 is that at 4 Ohms, and 86 Db rated sensitivity, they did require a good bit of amplifier power to get them going. I had on hand a Peachtree220 amplifier rated 200 wpc, and my McIntosh MA6600 offers up 250 wpc. They were more than sufficient. I would be wary of matching up the M25 with low powered amps, and would say 75 wpc and up would get the job done. Of course, amplifier and speaker match ups are always difficult to call, but this was my own experience.

 

Boston Acoustics M25

Conclusion:

The M25 are my new benchmark for sub $1000 two-way monitors. I can’t recommend them for an audition highly enough. The best part about reviewing is hearing what talented audio designers can do at the lower price points, especially in speakers.

The coherence, overall neutrality, and workmanship put it ahead of the pack for me. At $800 a pair, they are a steal. The amount of musical enjoyment per dollar is off the charts. The fact is I was able to partner the M25 with much more expensive electronics without any weaknesses being revealed. I now hope to review of one of the floorstanders in the M line. Hats of to Ken Ishiwata and the rest of the Boston Acoustics design team. The M25 is a great achievement.

 

Specifications



Boston Acoustics M25 loudspeaker: $399 (Each)
www.bostonacoustics.com

Nominal Impedance:4(3.6) ohms
Woofers: 1" EWB dome tweeter, 5 1/4" woofer
High-Frequency Driver 1" (2.5 cm) EWB dome
Recommended Amplifier Power: 50 - 200 watts
Sensitivity (1 watt (2.83v) at 1m): 86 dB
Frequency Response (+- 3dB): 62Hz - 30KHz



Review System 1


CD Transport: Musical Fidelity M1 CDT
Server: Squeezebox Touch w/ CIA VDC-SB power supply
via Ethernet to MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate
external drives.
DAC: Bryston BDA-1
Headphone Amp: Pro-Ject Head Box II
Headphones: Grado SR60
Preamp: Audio Research SP16
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55
Speaker: Thiel CS2.4, Opera Seconda
Cables:  Stager Silver Solids, Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent  MM2 Super (IC), Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Shunyata Venom (AC) Element Cable Red Storm (Digital AC), DH Labs TosLink, DH Labs AES/EBU, Belkin Gold (USB) DH Labs (USB)
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner,Salamander rack

Review System 2


CD Player: Marantz 5003
Music Server: Squeezebox Touch via Ethernet to
MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate external drives.
DAC: Musical Fidelity V-DAC II
Preamp: Peachtree NovaPre
Power Amp: Peachtree220
Integrated Amplifier: McIntosh  MA6600
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3
Cables: Kimber Hero HB,  DH Labs White Lightning (IC),QED Genisis Silver Spiral (Speaker),PS Audio (AC), Pangea Audio (AC), DH Labs TosLink, Audioquest Forest USB, Wireworld Ultraviolet USB
Accessories:Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Sound Anchors Stands, Wiremold


 






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